California clinic's $81M payments from uninsured fund catches HHS' eye

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An outpatient clinic in California received nearly as much federal aid for treating uninsured COVID-19 patients as a health system in Texas, a sum that federal officials have flagged for the HHS Office of Inspector General, according to The Wall Street Journal

A person familiar with the matter told the Journal HHS has referred $81 million in payments received by Elite Care Medical Group to the inspector general, though a spokesperson from the office told the newspaper it couldn't confirm or deny an investigation.

Elite Care's $81 million in payments, cited in recent CDC data, are part of a federal relief program aimed at helping providers who care for uninsured patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elite Care's payments are second only to Houston-based Harris Health System, which has received $86 million for treating about 3,000 uninsured COVID-19 patients, CEO Esmaeil Porsa told the Journal.

Elite Care offers patients primary care and specialty services, but isn't licensed to provide the intensive care services many acute COVID-19 patients require, according to the Journal, which cites California records. 

Surgeon Anthony Dinh, DO, operates Elite Care and other outpatient centers that combined have received $146 million in federal funding for uninsured COVID-19 patients, according to the report. When asked about the payments, Dr. Dinh told the Journal he needed more time to prepare a response. Dr. Dinh's attorney told the Journal Elite Care and its entities have found billing errors, which are being audited. 

Read more here.

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